Full Text for Confessions 2- Volume 43 - History between Luther's Death and the Formula of Concord (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS LC2 43 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800 825 5234 www.captionfirst.com *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >> NICK: Good afternoon, Professor. My name is Nick. And I'm looking forward to your portion of this course. I know the history of the Lutheran church during Martin Luther's lifetime pretty well. However, I'm not as familiar with the events that occurred after his death in 1546. I know that eventually the Lutheran church in Germany adopted the Formula of Concord in 1577 and that the Book of Concord was adopted in 1580. Who were some of the leading historic figures that emerged during this period? What happened in the Lutheran church between Luther's death and the writing of the Formula of Concord? And why is it important that we know? >> DR. RAST: Well, you know, Nick, that's a very good question. We spend so much time looking at the life of Martin Luther, considering his work and considering all of the events that went into the Lutheran Reformation beginning from 1517 and going down to the time of Luther's death in 1546, that sometimes we forget to pay attention to what happened afterwards. And we end up with a bit of a gap, if you will, between Luther's death and then the adoption of the Book of Concord in 1580. Part of the reason for that gap may be a very simple one; namely, Lutheranism was so convoluted. It went through such a difficult period of time that it's hard simply to keep straight all the players and all the controversies and all the different things that were happening during this period of time. But, since you've asked, I think I'd like to try and make a least a little bit of sense out of what was a very kind of messy situation. Now, you may know, Luther died on February 18th, 1546. In some ways his death was unexpected. They were not anticipating that he would pass away as quickly as he did. On the other hand, Luther had been predicting his death for some years at this point in time. I'm sure he was relieved at being released from the travails of this earth. But following his death the Lutheran chuch itself was thrust into a period of great difficulty. Almost immediately immediately following his death, the Emperor, Charles the V, and the Pope began to arrange to wipe Lutheranism out, to turn things back to the way they were before Luther appeared on the scene. Already in the late spring and early summer of 1546, the Pope and the Emperor were making plans to attack the German Lutheran princes and to use the force of the state to overcome the effects of the Reformation. By the mid summer in 1546 a plea had been made, a Papal bull, in fact, had been issued that largely said it's time to address the Lutheran problem. By the spring of 1547, the Imperial armies were ready to take action. The Lutherans, on the other hand, were fairly disorganized and were not prepared well to respond. The first battle between the two groups, the Battle of Muehlberg, which occurred on April 24th, 1547, was devastating to the Lutherans. They were driven from the field. They lost their leader. And, in fact, the Elector of Saxony, John Friedrich, was taken captive. In a way, Lutheranism lost its political head at that point in time. Shortly thereafter, other Lutheran territories began to fall under the threat of imperial advance. By the next spring, by 1548, May 1548, as a matter of fact, the Emperor had advanced to the point where he felt strong enough to move against the theological problems that Lutheranism had posed to Roman Catholicism. He under his leadership there was the imposition of what was called the Augsburg Interim. And in May 1548 this document was published. What the Augsburg Interim did, very simply, was try to force the Reformation to reaccept basic Roman Catholic propositions. Now, this was problematic for many of the Lutherans because they now had been working for 30 some years at re establishing biblical truth and bringing the Gospel to the forefront. So they were very troubled by this move. The problem was, however, that they did not have the political resources to resist the Emperor. At this point in time, there was a decisive moment facing the Lutheran church. How would they respond? Again, politically speaking, one of the Lutheran leaders of the area, a man who had been Duke of Saxony named Moritz, for his betrayal of the Lutheran cause the year before in the war, he was now named Elector. And he determined to position himself politically in a strong fashion so that he could mediate between the Lutheran theologians and the Lutheran territories and the Emperor himself. Through his efforts a second interim was ultimately developed, this being published in December 1548 titled the Leipzig Interim. Now, what's up with these interims? Very simply what they were, especially in the case of the Augsburg Interims, were documents that were intended to begin the process of bringing Lutherans back into the Roman Catholic fold. They marginalized distinctive Lutheran teachings, most especially the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. This was pushed to the side, if you will, within these documents. And other issues were brought to the forefront, issues like religious practice, the wearing of vestments by the clergy, and things like blessing oils, so forth. A number of what many saw as insignificant practices but practices that had been part and parcel of Roman Catholicism. The Leipzig Interim was able to, if you will, kind of give the Lutherans more room to work, give them a little more space to respond and a little more time to work out the way that they would interact with the Roman Catholics. But at the same time the doctrinal issues were there. So the question was how would we work within these situations? This led to the first great controversy in the period following Luther's death among the Lutherans. It was called the Adiaphoristic controversy. Now adiaphora are things that are indifferent, neither commanded nor forbidden by the scriptures. There is a certain freedom that we have as Christians either to adopt or no longer to retain ceremonies that are neither commanded nor forbidden in scripture. And one of the leaders among the Lutherans, namely, Philipp Melanchthon, said because so much of the interims deals with adiaphora, it's advisible for us, given the political circumstances, to adopt their usage. They're neither commanding nor forbidden. They're indifferent things, so we can do them in good conscience. However, other Lutherans said no. Because they are being forced upon us, we must not adopt these kinds of actions. The leading figure in this regard, a man who would emerge during this period of time as a leader among the Lutherans, was a man named Matthias Flacius Illyricus. Flacius had been at Wittenberg, had known Luther, had studied with Melanchthon as well, was very well informed of what was going on previous to the passing of Luther. However, following Luther's death, he became increasingly critical of Philipp Melanchthon and the way Melanchthon was leading things during the post Luther period. The result, was within the controversy, Flacius would articulate a position, namely, that in the midst of a controversy, nothing is an adiaphora. Melanchthon, on the other hand, said adiaphorant may or may not be retained whatever the circumstances may be. This showed the beginnings of what would be a large series of controversies within the Lutheran tradition. However, back to the interims. With the interims having been proposed in the year 1548, shortly thereafter, it became very clear that they were not particularly effective. In fact, they never were completely imposed upon the churches effectively. The result being that, by the latter part of 1548 into 1549 and then leading into 1550, the interims had become, if you will, marginalized themselves. The question was: Where will we go from here? Finally, in the year 1550, as political pressure continued to be applied to the likes of Flacius and the other more Lutheran leaders, as they liked to think of themselves, following their minds directly in the lines of Luther and not compromising, as they believed he would not, as this pressure continued to be applied, Flacius retreated to a city in Germany named Magdeburg. And in 1550, the city was besieged and went so far as to produce its own confession of faith. The Confession of Magdeburg is an important document, not as well known as it should be, in that it articulates really very vigorously for the first time two things. Number one, it appeals directly to Luther for his authority and sees him as the angel of the Book of Revelation who has brought the true Gospel back. Secondly, it also articulates a position of resistance to authorities who are suppressing the Gospel. It's a little different take on the Lutheran two kingdoms doctrine, you might say. What happens is, in the result of all this, is that Magdeburg resists. After a long seige it's finally taken. But it's clear by this time, especially to Moritz of Saxony that Lutherans are not going to give up their position. And at this point in time he does an amazing thing. As he had betrayed the Lutheran cause earlier in 1547, now he, in turn, betrays the Emperor. He actually in 1552 drives the Pope from Trent, disrupts the council, and in triumph enters into the city of Augsburg as the savior now of Lutheranism, the one who had so earlier come so close to destroying it. The Treaty of Passau in 1552 was a stop gap measure then to give both sides time to arrange things politically so that they could figure out a way for peaceful interaction between the two traditions. That is finalized then in the year 1555 with what we know as the Peace of Augsburg. And at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 Lutheranism is given legal recognition within the Holy Roman empire. The language used in order to develop a way of relating between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics is a Latin phrase. It goes like this: "Cuius regio, eius religio." And it simply means this: Whatever the religion of the ruler is, that is the religion of the region. So, in other words, in a politically divided Germany, you determined whether you were a Lutheran or a Roman Catholic on the basis of your political ruler's faith. If the political ruler was a Roman Catholic, the area was Roman Catholic. If the political ruler was a Lutheran, the area was Lutheran. This arrangement would continue for many, many years to come. And it's important to recognize it because this is the point at which Lutheranism received official standing in the empire. The basis for that official standing is acceptance of the Augsburg Confession. However, there's a problem. And that problem is, of course, the divisions within the Lutherans themselves. Is there agreement on what the Augsburg Confession teaches? What becomes obvious over this period of time, beginning, of course, with the Adiaphoristic Controversy and then continuing over the course of the 1550s and 1560s and ultimately into the the 1570s, is this basic question: What does it mean to be a Lutheran? What does it mean to be a follower of Martin Luther? Does it mean to be completely, shall we say, slavenly, as some would put it, attached to his doctrinal position, what he taught? Or is it more a matter of continuing in the spirit of Luther? Questions like that really were part of what disrupted the Lutheran tradition so violently during this point period of time. Within the context, the two leading figures continued to be Philipp Melanchton, on the one hand, and Matthias Flacius Illyricus on the other. And these two men and the groups that began to emerge around them would continue to be really the flashpoints within the Lutheran tradition. However, by the end of the 1550s, things were poised for a change. Poised because both of these men would soon pass from the scene. Philipp Melanchthon himself died in the year 1560, was buried at Wittenberg. Flacius, on the other hand, had a colloquy in the year 1560, fell into public error in regard to the doctrine of original sin. And we'll talk about that more over the course of this class. But, basically, what Flacius said was that original sin was a part of the human substance, the very human being. Others said no, that can't be. In fact, others from both sides of the ongoing controversy challenged Flacius on this particular point. And the result was that ultimately his standing decreased. And his leadership, well, ultimately was marginalized. So Melanchthon then dies; Flacius is marginalized. Still the controversies continue. Indeed, there are a whole series of controversies that the church has to face. And, in fact, what we'll be talking about, as we look specifically at the Formula of Concord, are those controversies. The doctrinal articles that make up the formula each address one of these ongoing controversies. Adiaphora, the place of good works, law and Gospel, and so forth. We'll work through each of them intentionally. We will see how Lutherans responded. And we'll find how they supported their positions from the scriptures themselves. It's a long story, but it's a fascinating one. And here, now leaving off in the year 1560, I think we're pretty well positioned to see how things start to change.